Serpentine belts are standard in just about any vehicle from the last quarter century. And they’re crucial for running everything from alternators to power steering.

In other words, when it’s time to replace it, replace it.

Serpentine belts will last you a few years, but depending on whom you ask, you’ll need to start thinking about checking it every 50,000 to 60,000 miles.

The easiest way to know that a new serpentine belt is needed is if you hear it squealing while the engine is running. A heavy rainstorm might cause a bit of squealing, but if there are any fluid leaks, it’s time to replace it right away. 

Another indicator that a replacement is necessary is if the belts look heavily cracked or if the grooves in the belt appear too shallow. Check the ribs facing the pulley as well—if there are any chunks or pieces missing, it’s time to replace the belt.

If you’ve checked the serpentine belt and everything looks okay, it’s alright to keep driving on it. Just be sure to continue checking it periodically.

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